The United Steelworkers have rejected the latest offer from Shell for a contract covering oil refinery workers, saying that this offer contains
"minimal movement" from earlier ones. About 4,000 workers are on strike in California, Kentucky, and Texas, affecting nine plants. However, management has brought in scab labor to keep the plants running.
A broader strike remains possible and "would threaten to disrupt as much as 64 percent of U.S. fuel output." According to the union as the strike began:
"This work stoppage is about onerous overtime; unsafe staffing levels; dangerous conditions the industry continues to ignore; the daily occurrences of fires, emissions, leaks and explosions that threaten local communities without the industry doing much about it; the industry’s refusal to make opportunities for workers in the trade crafts; the flagrant contracting out that impacts health and safety on the job; and the erosion of our workplace, where qualified and experienced union workers are replaced by contractors when they leave or retire," Beevers added.
In addition to safeguards against workplace fatigue and a reduction in the use of non-union contractors, the union is looking for bigger raises than in its last contract.
Continue reading below the fold for more of the week's labor and education news.
- A California Walmart worker tells how she was fired for protesting.
- Hospitals fail to protect nursing staff from becoming patients:
In terms of sheer number of these injuries, BLS data show that nursing assistants are injured more than any other occupation, followed by warehouse workers, truckers, stock clerks and registered nurses.
The number one reason why nursing employees get these injuries is by doing their everyday jobs of moving and lifting patients.
- On the Belabored podcast, Sarah Jaffe and Michelle Chen talk with a Steelworkers local president about the oil workers strike.
- As part of its union contract, Ford has a cap on how many workers it can have at its lower-tier wage of $19.28 an hour. It's exceeding that cap, so around 500 workers will get a big raise up to $28.50.
- Airlines have been a bright spot in union organizing recently, and another big campaign is underway, this one at Delta, where previous organizing efforts have failed in the face of aggressive anti-union campaigns by the airline:
Several differences between the 2010 and 2015 union campaigns bode well for success this time, says Julianna Helminski, a veteran flight attendant who is actively supporting the IAM drive and was also a supporter of the 2010 drive. The 12,000 signed election authorization cards gathered by union organizers represents about 60 percent of the eligible voters, she says, so this by itself indicates majority support for the union. Although a drop-off in union support from the beginning of the election process until the end is common, Helminski concedes, the 12,000 signed cards were gathered over a two year period of active organizing that has solidified union support. That’s in contrast to 2010 when pre-election support for the AFA-CWA was much softer, she explains.
- Do yourself a favor and don't trust Matt Yglesias when he talks about unions.
- A no-tip coffee shop where the workers make $12.50 an hour.
- How the produce aisle looks to a migrant farmworker.
- Mayor Bill de Blasio proposes a $15 minimum wage for New York City; Gov. Andrew Cuomo predictably shits on the idea.
- The economic benefits of paid parental leave.
- Shocker. New Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is attacking public worker unions. How original.
Over 4,500 people work at the Ashley Furniture facility in Arcadia, Wisconsin. Stunningly, during the three-and-a-half year period covered by a new workplace safety investigation more than 1,000 workers suffered injuries.
That includes multiple amputations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a $1.76 million fine.
- Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis has not lost her edge, to judge by this speech:
They are tired of being represented by people who agree with privatizing public assets; those stealing our pensions while they protect their own; those City Council members who think it’s okay to vilify hard working teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians. People are tired of City Council members who are complicit by their silence as the mayor’s hand-picked board closed 50 schools; complicit in their silence as the city engages in charter madness. People are tired of elected officials who think it okay to lie to the President of the United States about the length of our school day because they are desperate to win. I think it is a shame when the President goes on the radio to repeat a lie that Jonah Edelman already admitted (at the Aspen Institute) that this was something he made up and the mayor just took it and ran with it.
The longer school day myth is just as bad as the “STEM” myth being propagandized across the country. I’d like to know where are all of these vacancies that are going unfilled—when Microsoft lays off 18,000 workers, and high-tech companies continue to outsource to other countries. STEM is just another tactic of the ruling class to decrease wages in this protracted war on the middle-class.
You know, as I think of it: It is patently unfair that these people get to clamor for the heads of teachers —as they call for accountability by looking at high-stakes test scores—yet we can only hold these people accountable every four years. And who holds the venture capitalists responsible?
- Education activist Helen Gym is running for Philadelphia city council.